Our August 2021 Primary endorsements are finally ready! Just in time, with ballots dropping today. We tried to gather as much information as we could by hosting forums (Position 9 & Mayoral), sending out questionnaires (City & County), and keeping in mind track records and our prior meetings with candidates during our constant advocacy work. We endorsed the following candidates who will appear on your August 3rd Primary ballot because we felt they rose above the rest when we simplified things and asked ourselves: who are the one or two very best candidates for transit in each race? Endorsements here don’t necessarily mean other candidates aren’t strong in their own right, but we felt they had further to go to become our best transit champions. Don’t forget to mail your ballot before August 3rd or drop your ballot in a dropbox before 8:00pm on August 3rd. We will also update these endorsements for the General Election in November.
Seattle Mayor: Andrew Grant Houston and Jessyn Farrell
Picking candidates to endorse out of this field of very good urbanism, land use, and transportation candidates wasn’t easy. This is a good problem to have, but only two can make it through to the next round, so tough choices are necessary. After reviewing and re-reviewing forums, questionnaires, and track records, two candidates rose above the rest when we simplified things and asked ourselves: who are the very best mayoral candidates for transit; and from those, who made strong commitments to a universal grade-separated rail system on the fastest possible timeline?
Andrew Grant Houston is an exceptional transit candidate. He even put together his own Seattle rail vision map that makes our vision look modest in comparison. His forum performance and answers to our questionnaire put his deep understanding of policy issues on display. His long range vision sounds almost like we wrote it: “In the next 20 years, we should expand transit so that every Seattleite is within a mile of a light-rail station and within a quarter mile of a bus stop that has service that is more frequent than every 15-minutes for a majority of the day.” His goals are our goals. Vote Houston.
Jessyn Farrell is an excellent transit candidate as well. Her resume runs deep. Long time transit advocate, former head of Transportation Choices Coalition, Farrell pushed for and won ST3 funding when she was in the State Legislature. Farrell has the most state legislative experience and would be a great advocate for Seattle’s transit future, she would be great at passing HB 1304 through the state legislature. She has the deep knowledge and experience required to help our city make serious progress and her vision also looks a bit like something we might have written: “For far too long, Seattle has played catch-up on transportation instead of leading the way. We need a transportation system that provides people with equitable, safe, reliable, affordable and climate-friendly travel choices.“ We couldn’t agree more. Vote Farrell.
There are two other candidates who were strong contenders for our endorsement: Council President M. Lorena González and Colleen Echohawk. González has been a consistent vote for transit on the city council, pitched in to support our HB 1304, and would have earned our endorsement in most candidate fields. There were just two answers in the forums and questionnaires that caused us some concern. She was a no/maybe on ensuring the city makes its own plan to identify citywide Link rail corridors to prepare for a future ST4 and she seemed to take Sound Transit’s current realignment process as a given rather than something to fight. These are both critically important short-term priorities for our organization that have huge long-term consequences.
We really liked Echohawk’s answers on land use and her focus on bus improvements for all users and uses, not just typical 9 to 5 commuters. On land use she said “…I support ending exclusionary zoning to allow for duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes in every neighborhood” with which we whole-heartedly agree. Our concerns came down to her “no” on expediting the update to Seattle’s Transit Master plan to explicitly include a Link by next year.
In the case of both González and Echohawk, we’re splitting hairs somewhat. It’s clear that both are very good transit candidates and would bring the right values on issues we care about to the Mayor’s office should they win.
That said, two candidates elevated above the rest on the issues nearest and dearest to us: Expansion of Seattle’s transit system, high quality Link rail expansion in particular. Vote Farrell or Houston.
Seattle City Council, Citywide, Position 8: Teresa Mosqueda
Teresa Mosqueda is one of the loudest advocates of any candidate in this election cycle pushing to give the City of Seattle more equitable access to faster transit. She has supported us in our efforts to get state authority to fund citywide exclusive right-of-way rail to connect most Seattle neighborhoods with Link, and she has supported our efforts to budget for the creation of a City-level masterplan for light rail corridors. Mosqueda had many accomplishments during this current term. But there is one vote that we didn’t win that we want to mention here: we can’t thank Mosqueda enough for her vote in support of maximizing revenues in the Seattle Transportation Benefit District renewal, which voters passed with over 80% voting yes. If we and Mosqueda had successfully increased the funding in the STBD renewal, we wouldn’t have had as many cuts to transit service. We always look forward to agreeing with Teresa Mosqueda on the next transportation and land use issue to come up, and our only wish is for more Teresa Mosquedas on the Seattle City Council. Vote Mosqueda.
Seattle City Council, Citywide, Position 9: Nikkita Oliver and Brianna Thomas
Nikkita Oliver said climate is an issue that impacts every aspect of civic life, from transportation, to housing, to labor, to accessibility, which makes the relative lack of action unacceptable. They recognize that Seattle voters are hungry to push the pace with respect to transit. Oliver wants to continue to pursue HB 1304 and similar legislation for transit. While they waffled in the forum out of concern for regional connections, in our questionnaire they said “yes” that they will ensure Seattle’s plan to connect every neighborhood with Sound Transit-operated light rail is written by the end of 2022; and “yes” in their capacity as a city council member they will work with Sound Transit to ensure ST3 is built with future expansion in mind. ST4 here we come! Vote Oliver.
Brianna Thomas relies on King County Metro’s C Line for her transportation needs to and from West Seattle. She believes all Seattleites should have access to a transit system that is fast, reliable, multimodal, convenient, and accessible regardless of each person’s location or physical ability. Thomas has been working as a City Council staffer to advance important transportation issues including the Seattle Transportation Benefit District renewal. While she unfortunately waffled in the forum about the City creating its own plan to connect every neighborhood with Sound Transit-operated light rail in favor of waiting until the region is someday ready to move forward on such a discussion; she does hope that City can partner with King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties for a future ST4, and she looks forward to a King County-wide transit ballot measure in 2024. Vote Thomas.
King County Executive: Dow Constantine and Joe Nguyen
There is literally no way we weren’t going to endorse Dow Constantine for King County Executive. His resume on transit and his history on the Sound Transit Board are exemplary. He fought for, and won, an expanded ST3 package during ST3 planning in 2016. He led the charge to pass ST3 in 2016. During his long tenure on the Sound Transit board and as the Executive over King County Metro one theme has come through loud and clear: Dow Constantine prioritizes transit riders when he makes decisions. Vote Constantine.
We are also huge fans of Joe Nguyen. During his short tenure with the state legislature he has already made his mark as a serious pro transit voice. He worked with us to advance HB 1304 last year. He brings the perspective of someone who has had to rely on transit in parts of King County where transit access isn’t great. The way forward for transit? “I’ll staunchly reject failed policies of austerity and lead the country on investing our way out of the economic fallout from the pandemic.” Music to our ears. Vote Nguyen.
That’s it for the August 2021 Primary Election. Don’t forget to mail your ballot before August 3rd or drop your ballot in a dropbox before 8:00pm on August 3rd. We will update these endorsements for the General Election in November.
108 Replies to “Seattle Subway August 2021 Primary Endorsements”
Haven’t we had enough candidates with the right ideas on transit but with no experience or proven ability to make things happen? No thanks on “outsiders” and people with zero experience doing anything but talking.
I agree with you on Houston, but Oliver is running for council. It wouldn’t be her job to ‘make things happen’ – it would be to build consensus and pass policy as one councilmember out of nine. I’m not sure I’m going to vote for her, but I’m not going to let her ‘lack of experience’ stop me from doing so.
Yeah, but Houston is just a more extreme example. There is no question the job is harder, and his lack of experience doing anything similar is glaring, and should disqualify him from further consideration. But Oliver hasn’t done anything similar either. No time spent on a board, or time spent working for the city. Nikkita has a long record of advocacy, but little record of success. I get your point — it isn’t a big stretch for Oliver to take a job at the city council, but there is nothing in Nikkita’s suggesting the ability to do a good job building consensus and passing policy. It is quite likely that Oliver will instead focus on diatribes and self promotion.
In contrast, Thomas actually *has* accomplished a lot with her advocacy work ($15 minimum wage, Democracy Vouchers). But the big difference is she knows exactly what is involved with the job, and can hit the ground running. She would have a very close working relationship with the person likely to be the next mayor (González ).
Then there is the political aspect of this. Sara Nelson was endorsed by the Seattle Times. It is quite likely she will make it through the primary. It is quite likely she could beat Oliver, as the more qualified and more moderate candidate. In contrast, Thomas would win easily, for the same reasons. Brianna Thomas is much closer to the political middle of the city, but if the vote is split, she won’t make it that far, as the two political extremes battle it out in an off-year primary election. Voting for Oliver just means it is more likely that Nelson gets a job on the council.
Nelson has run a couple of times for city council– and never made it out of the primary. Have you seen her campaign commercial? I have never seen someone so wooden in an ad (and someone in the ad industry thought that was the best take?)
The Stranger is the bigger player than the Times– remember how they got Cary Moon out of the primary to run against Durkan (bypassing Ferrell)
The Stranger is the bigger player than the Times– remember how they got Cary Moon out of the primary to run against Durkan (bypassing Ferrell)
They are both big players. Durkan was endorsed by the Times, and The Stranger endorsed Moon. Same dynamic. The Stranger endorses the less electable candidate, who then gets beat quite easily in the general. Ferrel would have stood a chance against Durkan, and would likely be better than Moon at achieving the goals The Stranger claims they are interested in. But at the end of the day, folks just went with the safe choice (Durkan).
Yeah, Nelson might not come out of the primary, but I’ve seen this sort of thing play out this way repeatedly (not just the last mayoral election) so it makes me worried. We really could use second choice voting.
Off year elections don’t help either. You tend to get two groups of voters: the activists, and the conservatives. The combination leads to people like Durkan (and Nelson).
I used to vote almost the complete Stranger ticket until it led me to choose a newcomer over Nickles in the primary. I was undecided between the two, and I was sure Nickels would get the other slot, but a lot of other people did the same thing and Nickels didn’t make the top two. Since then I’ve been more wary of The Strangers’ endorsements. And in recent years The Stranger has often chosen progressive darlings who are missing it in terms of transit, urbanism, experience, and unifying people, so I ignore those. Many people have had similar experiences with The Strangers’ endorsements, so they’re not as decisive as they were in the past. Still, they’re one of the two most influential endorsements around, alongside the Times.
“You tend to get two groups of voters: the activists, and the conservatives.”
That leaves out a lot of people, like me. I agree with several of the activists’ goals but I don’t want somebody who’s an agitator, divisive, inexperienced, prone to identity politics, etc.
I’ve lost faith in The Strangers endorsements. They aren’t quite as bad as The Seattle Times, but both have gone downhill. One of the key elements of endorsements is for an editorial staff to spend the time to figure out whether a person is capable and would be a good member of a board. There are people I agree with on most issues that I would never vote for because they just wouldn’t be good at their job. Back in the day, both papers knew this, and did a very good job at it. The Times leaned right, and The Stranger left, but both put a lot of emphasis on competence. Now that’s not the case.
Of course a long time ago, it was the Seattle P. I. that leaned left, while the Times leaned right. I guess I’ve been around a while.
On a related note, I can’t seem to find the Muni League ratings. Are they still around?
Thanks, Ross – I basically agree with what you wrote, but I haven’t looked as deeply at the candidates. I need to get my shit together on this election.
What has Nelson said/done to make her such a terrible candidate from the transit/land use perspective?
This is somewhat a response to Steve, but mainly a followup to my earlier comments. This is an excellent endorsement of Thomas by PubliCola (which also mentions Nelson) https://publicola.com/2021/07/19/publicola-picks-brianna-thomas-for-seattle-city-council-position-9/. The editorial board is made up of Barnett and Feit, both of whom used to write for The Stranger back in the day. They also have Paul Kiefer, who writes for KUOW.
Anyway, to better answer your question, no one knows exactly what a person will do until they get there. But the fact that the reactionary Seattle Times Editorial Board endorsed Nelson while also reluctantly acknowledging that Thomas is better qualified shows that Nelson is more her type of gal. She strikes me as very much like Alex Pedersen. Sure, in the grand scheme of things, that isn’t that bad (if every elected official in the country was like that, we would be a much better country). But I really don’t want another representative saying we shouldn’t touch the single family zoned areas, or that we shouldn’t fund transit like we did before. Maybe that’s not fair, and maybe Nelson wouldn’t be as bad as Pedersen, but I would rather not take a chance.
I like you guys are picking multiple candidates. Shoulda done the same in 2019 Seattle D6, but alas… here we are. Good picks for Mayor.
The Andrew Grant Houston vision map is ridiculous. It portrays the perspective of someone clueless about what it takes to build and fund a productive transit system. It also shows a neglect that plagues many daily — bad transfers. Many of the connections are available today — but merely not using steel rails. Labeling it as a “green new deal” map is blatant patronizing to the term. It is something that a dreaming advocate would produce, but not a mayor who has to make strategic decisions in a funding-constrained setting.
I would much rather see a practical message that includes solutions to the problems that plague us — like addressing dangerous surface stations in the middle of MLK or creating alternatives to grandiose designs that result in building more miles of surface tracks as opposed to deep bore subways with deep station vaults in the middle of downtown or aerial stations as high as 10 floors in the air. Even colocating government services at stations would be a powerful policy to pursue.
The Andrew Grant Houston vision map is ridiculous. It portrays the perspective of someone clueless about what it takes to build and fund a productive transit system.
@RossB: I can’t believe I’m agreeing with you. But I didn’t believe I’d agree with Lazarus yesterday on Zonal fares.
I was arguing with Houston about that map last September, and he was completely stonewalling me when I was offering some creative criticism.
Now mind you, I’m in the “Yes 500 miles of rail-based grade-separated rapid Transit is a fundamentally GOOD idea that should be pursued ASAP for Puget Sound”.
500 miles of rail-based grade-separated rapid Transit is a fundamentally GOOD idea that should be pursued ASAP for Puget Sound
The problem is, it is completely unrealistic. No one our size has ever built anything like that. It would be over twice the length of the Seoul Subway system, for a city 1/10 the size. It is like saying we should give every homeless person in the state a million dollars. Yes, it would solve the problem, but we simply can’t afford it.
@RossB Seoul has a system length over 700 miles, and between GTX and all the extensions/new lines is on track reach over a 1000.
I put 500 miles because Seattle should be planning on growing to 10 million people. In general, Metro areas should be building 40-50 miles of Rapid Transit for every million people.
This is not an unrealistic or unreasonable goal to seek out.
I put 500 miles because Seattle should be planning on growing to 10 million people.
That isn’t going to happen, and burdening an area with costs assuming that it will is putting the cart before the horse. Build what makes sense for that area — if the city grows, then build more.
“ I put 500 miles because Seattle should be planning on growing to 10 million people.”
Who set that target? Shouldn’t we plan every public investment and utility for this too — including schools (we will need 14 schools for every one today), water, electricity, and roads for freight delivery?
We have still not reached 800,000. I could see no more than 2 million max and 1 to 1.4 million seems more likely. After all, Manhattan and Brooklyn combined covers 30 percent more area than Seattle and that’s at about 4.3 million today. City of Paris has only just over 2 million for half of the city area of Seattle so we would need an average density 2.5 times higher than Paris to reach 10 million. Dare I mention that both places have a long-standing housing supply/ affordability problem?
This 10 million target is a fantasy number not based in reality.
Seattle grew by 8400 citizens between April 1, 2020 and April 1, 2021. With a current population of around 767,000 it would take around what, 900 years to reach 10 million residents at a time most first world birth rates are now below replacement rates (excluding immigration).
I don’t know how many on this blog have lived in a city of ten million residents. I certainly did not like it, and wouldn’t stick around if Seattle got close to 1.5 million because Seattle is straining to deal with 767,000 citizens.
There is faux urbanism like on The Urbanist, and real urbanism like in a city of 10 million, and the real urbanism is a rat race for space. You are never alone.
There is a pretty good chance our current transit and transportation systems will be obsolete in 30 years if self driving technology takes hold, and over the next five years WFH could remove tens of thousands of commuters from transit and our roads during peak hours each day.
It is a brave new world except for nineteenth and early 20th century transportation systems.
10 million is one person’s idea. Seattle would have to be over three times denser than New York City to reach 10 million. That’s not going to happen. Any drastic change to Seattle’s or King County’s population would require consensus between you, the politicians, and the public.
I would advocate for a more modest goal of 1 million or 1.6 million in Seattle. That would put us at the same density as San Francisco. When we reach that, then we can aspire to more.
Seattle should have zoned a New Westminster at Northgate to accommodate another Amazon-sized campus and its housing. Maybe Amazon would have taken it, or if not, another company or companies would. Instead it allowed highrise zoning only on the mall lot, and the mall won’t use it, so the opportunity is wasted.
@Mike Orr: I’m talking in Metropolitan terms. I will (almost) never refer to incorporated city, as I feel that incorporated cities are a misleading and increasingly outdated way of Measuring the population of a region.
That makes sense at a conceptual level, FDW. However, this post is about City of Seattle offices so the use of “Seattle” is assumed to mean just inside the city limits unless otherwise specified.
Within the metropolitan area “Seattle” is usually understood to mean the city. OK, if you mean Pugetopolis as a whole should have 10 million people, the current population is around 4 million, so it’s 4/10 of the way there. Seattle is 84 square miles while New York City is 320 square miles, so a geographical comparison to New York would include the Eastside and South King County. But you’re arguing for the tri-county area to be 10 million I think. The region is expecting another million and maybe more after that; that’s what the PSRC growth plan is about. So that’s 5 million there.
If you really want the metro to grow to 10 million, then you have to start with getting the politicians to adopt that as a goal. We can’t go around scaling one arbitrary aspect of infrastructure piecemeal when the rest of the comprehensive plans are still at half that size. It probably won’t happen, the upper half of the infrastructure won’t be used, and voters and taxpayers would never support it. We need to focus on what we have a chance of getting passed next, not on banging our heads against the wall.
Regarding the “City of Seattle” vs “Metro Seattle” debate, here’s a consideration: how many of Seattle’s workers actually live within the City proper? How many Seattle residents work outside of the City?
Here’s some light reading for y’all:
Pretending that you can do Seattle projects without considering the suburbs is like New York pretending that Newark & Jersey City don’t exist. About half of the people on my block commute to somewhere north of 518/405, and we’re at the King/Pierce County line – a few to Bellevue, one to Renton, and several to Seattle. I used to work in Kirkland while my wife worked in Seattle, although, we’ve both changed jobs. To this day, I often find myself in Seattle (pre-pandemic anyways) for meetings.
Every employer is going to have workers who are satisfied with apartment, and those who will demand to have a home with a yard. Seattle can’t be everything to everyone. It should grow up and offer density. But, with that, it means you lose most families that wants a small plot of land for veggies and a swingset; and with that, you have to offer solutions for those commuting from further away. Offering transit options just within the City proper and not considering the suburbs is short-sighted and unsustainable.
500 miles of rail-based grade-separated rapid transit is a fundamentally bad idea. I will point to lengthy comments threads in prior STB posts about how 100% grade separation is a immensely counterproductive goal. There are many corridors throughout the metro that are much better served by arterial rapid transit (irrelevant if rubber or metal wheel) or by tram-trains.
Ace’s map is foolish and amateur. It has all sorts of errors in terms of missed connections, reverse branching, and general ignorance around operational constraints and best practices of rail transport, and it shows a complete lack of interest in sustainability and resilience. Even if you overlay >8mm people it make no sense because Ace has zero idea where those 8 million people are going to be; the complete lack of engagement with current or future land use also underscores a lack of seriousness in his maps.
you have to offer solutions for those commuting from further away
Yes, in the form of buses and (relatively cheap) commuter rail. Subway systems only make sense for densely populated, congested areas (i. e. the urban core). That way, the folks who ride transit more often (the people who never leave the urban core) can take advantage of it, as well as those who commute or visit from outside. That is the standard worldwide, although some American cities have experimented with other approaches (and failed, miserably).
It’s a joke that map would even be considered worthy of bringing up with how infeasible it is, even if everything was surface-running (I do like the gemstone names though).
Can STB offer candidates the opportunity to put an interactive listing of when candidates appear at Link stations or transit centers? Are they allowed to set up at station entrances? This remote advocacy makes me feel like riders are more of a “them” like homeless persons. They would learn so much from talking to transit riders as they are accessing transit so they can point out the real-world daily challenges.
The missing question: what transit trips have you taken in the past month?
About a month ago I took the 550 from Mercer Island to Pioneer Square and back while my car was in the shop. Other than the driver there were two of us on the 550 at 9 am, and all were masked.
Mike Orr: during the debate, Oliver said she drives and Thomas said she uses the C Line. I expect Nelson used transit when she worked for Conlin.
If you’re a single-issue voter, and steel-rail transit is your issue, then Seattle Subway’s endorsements are your guide. I expected Seattle Subway to endorse AGH since he’s got the most fantastical transit plan.
AGH is the ultimate millenial/zoomer candidate with many promises that would inevitably be frustrated by some archaic bureaucratic process and financial infeasibility. I do hope he cracks top 4 in the primary, though, and ends up recruited by whoever the future mayor ends up being to help guide policy.
However, as previously discussed ad nauseum, this election will not have transit as a central issue; housing affordability and community safety will be what people will be voting on first, with other issues (like transit) being minor factors.
I think it would be nice to see what the city could accomplish if there were actual coordination between the mayor and the council, which is not what we’ve seen with Durkan. Four more years of bickering with the executive is not going to get any problems solved. Some voters think the council is the problem, but it’s tough luck for those voters that the only realistic candidates for the open council seats are going to agree more often than they don’t with the rest.
The question is who you put first, not who others put first. Seattle Subway’s position is rather narrow, while STB focuses more on candidates ideas about transit and land use as a while. I lean toward the latter: what we need now is more bus service, and time to digest ST2. I’m not so comfortable with making beyond-ST3 light rail a litmus test, especially if it turns out as bad as Ballard’s 14th station and lack of transfer foresight.
And 2022 sounds too early for a Seattle rail plan deadline. They won’t even start until January 2020, and they’ll need a few months to get up to speed and deal with the other issues, so that gives six good months for the plan, and if you only have that long then there will only be one round of proposals, whereas plans are better when they go through multiple rounds of proposals and feedback. So I’d give it two years; i.e., December 2023. And it really needs to cover not just light rail but also buses and bikes and peds. We need to get beyond this planning a transit improvement and then it gets downgraded to put an arbitrary bike priority higher, one piecemeal corridor at a time.
A better priority might be to make sure the ST3 alignment doesn’t suck;.
Mike: 2022 is to fund a rail plan (as part of a larger planning effort.). I think it’s our least understood point at the moment (including some of the candidates), we need to work on that.
Seattle needs to codify what the long term Link plan is in order for Sound Transit or state representatives to give future lines or planning elements any consideration at all.
A citywide transit plan that includes Link opens up all sorts of doors to make things happen. Expansion features, future expansion funding, etc.
As it is now, what comes to Seattle as part of ST processes is largely dependent on whomever happens to be mayor/head of SDOT at the moment.
It needs to be less dependent on current politics and more about pulling down the next project that fits into an objectively studied and analyzed long range plan.
“what comes to Seattle as part of ST processes is largely dependent on whomever happens to be mayor/head of SDOT at the moment.”
Good point. Ballard-downtown Link and the Westlake streetcar study were because those were McGinn’s priorities. The SLU routing was because it became Murray’s priority.
I think Nathan D is spot on. Crime and homelessness (and in cities like Seattle affordable housing, which basically is unsolvable if history is any guide) are the two main issues for mayoral races across the U.S.
Who would have predicted one year ago Democrats in NY city would have voted to nominate a former police captain running on a law and order campaign. It just goes to show that whenever law and order is an issue white people will vote based on law and order. If you have homeless camping on school grounds in Seattle and the city unwilling to remove them that will be the number one issue for those voters.
The region will spend around $90 billion on light rail through 2041, much of it IMO wasteful. Major rail routes will open in 2021 and 2023. Meanwhile commuter ridership on transit looks like it will decline with WFH, I doubt any average person will think transit is an issue for Seattle’s mayoral race in 2021.
Personally I would like to see the $3.5 billion bridge repair/replacement issue front and center (because transit does not fly and more importantly determines what kind of transit can be afforded on a mixed use bridge, and the West Seattle bridge is closed), and an honest discussion whether upzoning actually creates affordable — or even more affordable — housing, because I haven’t seen it so far.
If a single candidate could even explain the difference between emergency and affordable housing, and the different kinds of affordable housing and the different issues each creates — 30%, 50%, 80% AMI — and the amounts we have spent and where on each, I would vote for that candidate. But they can’t.
Other issues I would like see discussed — or at least asked — are tourism rates, hotel occupancy rates, and and brick and mortar sales tax revenue in Seattle over the last three years, because these tell you whether you have a sick downtown retail and commercial core, and that is where the revenue comes for this progressive city in which many contribute nothing. Blaming Covid no longer works. The rest of the region is open for business.
Instead I see Charter Amendment 29, Seattle Subway, and some mayoral candidates who understand nothing about money, infrastructure, law and order, housing, or any other serious issue, and think all those eastside Nextdoor posts are right: Seattle has descended into the silly zone. It isn’t whether all those eastsiders are correct, it is that so many believe that, and Seattle needs eastside money to function, including commuter transit and transit levies.
Finally, I know many disagree with this, but what I see today in Seattle is exactly what I saw in 1970 when my parents moved the family from Seattle to the eastside (when there was no eastside): bad public schools, crime, a hollow downtown retail scene, and now a destruction of single family zones. Based on the real estate market on the eastside, and now the desire of those folks to work on the eastside, what I am seeing again is wealth flight from Seattle to the eastside, except this time it is not all white.
If you want to know how this turns out study the history of Seattle from around 1970 to around 2000, or the city of Buckhead that seeks to secede from Atlanta. Buckhead has 20% of the population but provides 40% of assessed value and nearly 70% of Atlanta’s tax revenue.
Buckhead happened to Seattle with the eastside, but it began in 1970 and is gearing up again today. Can anyone reading this article rationalize to a citizen of Buckhead why it should not secede, because that is the same argument needed to be made to families and citizens in Seattle today, and almost never do people based this kind of decision on morality. Is there any doubt Buckhead will secede? Who is to blame for that?
One of my favorite sayings is “money can move”. Once gone it rarely comes back. It is why East King Co. can afford a stupid $4.5 billion light rail line from Issaquah to S. Kirkland, and N. King Co. cannot afford a station at Graham St. or WSBLE.
“Crime and homelessness are the two main issues for mayoral races across the U.S. ”
… for certain kinds of voters.
I wonder if the region experienced any major employment shocks in 1970 that took decades to recover from, and perhaps precipitated your parents’ move to cheap rural land. I guess that’s an inscrutable mess of history we’ll never untangle.
I also wonder why Jeff B. decided to move from his garage in Bellevue to Beacon Hill in 1999, if the Eastside was/is so great.
I can’t find if ST has published updated numbers by subarea this year, but as of December 2020:
North King has about 820k residents and was expected to produce over $32B in revenues from 2017 to 2041.
East King has about 600k residents and was expected to produce $20.8B in revenues in that same time.
The tax income has been revised upwards (and I doubt there’s a significant difference in increase % between N. and E.), but you act as though E. King is somehow paying for everything, when it absolutely is not (and cannot, as you often remind us.
I revise my accusation to this: DT implies that the eastside is wealthier than the West because it’s somehow managed its societal problems better than the West. I don’t actually think he thinks E. King is paying for other subarea’s projects – I got a little carried away there.
On my recent visit, I spent some time in Magnolia. I didn’t see a single house for sale in the areas I walked through. I saw several for sale in Shoreline, for whatever that’s worth.
In any event, I saw no signs of people fleeing Seattle in droves, or even oxcarts. If money were actually moving, I would expect to see actual homes being sold, especially in places where money exists.
The average time to sell a house in Seattle is about 6 days:
average price is in the $800,00 range.
In the tax haven Republican paradise of Wisconsin, this is 94 days:
In the Republican paradise of Texas, it’s about 53 days.
So, whatever it is that people supposedly don’t like about Seattle, it isn’t enough to make people not buy places to live there.
Maybe the reason the Eastside is growing is because there are simply no more houses to be found in places where people actually want to live?
What North King can’t afford is Midtown, New Westlake and New IDS. It can afford all of Ballard-SLU with a temporary surface station at Westlake, the West Seattle stub, Graham Street and 130th comfortably. With good value engineering it can even bore one tube of DSTT2 as Al suggested to connect Ballard-SLU to the outside world or connect a service tunnel at University or really cheaply at the Westlake curve.
It can do all that ON ITS OWN DIME, saving you suburban MOTU’s from the vapors.
As a millennial don’t group me with Ace please.
I sort of like Seattle Transit Blog (as opposed to Seattle Subway) where they go through all the candidates and point out the negatives of the non-endorsed and why you need to go vote.
Even for STB (perspective of a single issue voter), that’s a terrible list of endorsements.
I was talking with someone the other day who is still fatigued over the 2020 election and doesn’t plan to vote in this one. Granted, it’s a sample of one, but if this is common, I could see the next Seattle mayor and city council determined by a very low-turnout election.
A low turnout election probably favors another Durkan-style candidate who will cater to the older single family homeowners who always vote in every election no matter what. Which may be good for some issues (removing homeless from parks, funding police), but not good at all for transit or bike lanes (these types of candidates tend to be very pro-car and have a voter base of people who never go anywhere without driving, and can’t fathom anybody else not being like them). And definitely not good for SFH zoning reforms.,
That is what I fear as well. As I wrote up above, I think it will be the extremes — the activists and reactionaries — that make it through the primary. Then the reactionary will win, as she pivots slightly to appear as the more qualified city council candidate. At least that is how I fear Position 9 playing out.
The incumbents will win easily. The mayor will come down to Harrell and González. I think González will win, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Harrell is elected. My biggest fear is Sara Nelson shifting the council away from transit, zoning and bike improvements.
I don’t think this election will be low turnout, at least not compared to the primary average. The biggest problem I see is indecision: there’s no one obvious candidate and several are nearly equal, and it’s hard to gauge a person’s total governing style from the short clips in forums and endorsements. People are afraid of making a mistake if they’re uncertain, and that can lead them to not vote or to leave that race blank.
This election is an excellent example of why FPTP limits voter choice, whereas Ranked-Choice or Approval voting would make sure that a split primary vote on either end of the local political spectrum won’t “spoil” the general election.
My anecdotal experience at a tech company in downtown is that the only people who drive to work are those who live outside of Seattle. Almost all the Seattleites I know at work primarily take the bus or walk.
Combine this with the overwhelmingly huge voter majority that has approved every transit measure in the last 5 years and it seems to me that catering to wealthier people and single-family homeowners has become a lot less tied to catering to drivers.
Was Durkan really so terrible for transit in Seattle? The only big blunder I can think of is 35th NE.
Here is the bike groups’ take on Durkan, although I am not sure the bike groups understand the issue with Move Seattle was the projects were underestimated by 1/2, which I agree was not Durkan’s fault although the blog seems to suggest evil was at play at the lack of projects delivered under Move Seattle. Her decisions on the street car befuddled me.
Seattle will get another chance at Move Seattle in 2024. I hope in 2024 the projects are more realistically estimated, and more tied to actual ridership or moving people, like actually counting the number of bikers using a dedicated bike lane (or God forbid repairing or replacing a bridge). Of course by 2024 I will no longer be working in downtown Seattle.
“My anecdotal experience at a tech company in downtown is that the only people who drive to work are those who live outside of Seattle”.
Seattle is a pretty big city, so I am not sure if you are talking about just downtown Seattle. If I lived downtown I would also walk or take the bus to work too, especially with the costs of parking. When you get to 130th or Lake City or Ballard or West Seattle or the Highlands the dynamic changes a bit. For Issaquah and areas east the real issue is not driving, but the hassle and time to commute on transit to Seattle. It seems on paper crazy for someone to commute from Issaquah to Seattle, but they do it for the SFH, public safety, and public schools, just like the rest of suburbia around the U.S.
“Combine this with the overwhelmingly huge voter majority that has approved every transit measure in the last 5 years and it seems to me that catering to wealthier people and single-family homeowners has become a lot less tied to catering to drivers.”
I understand many on this blog think cars are catered to, but I don’t quite understand what they mean. We will spend $90 billion on Link through 2041. The cost of Metro is several billion dollars each year. General fund subsidies for buses are 80%, or for rail 60%, much of that paid for by fees and sales taxes on cars. Parking in downtown Seattle comes with a 20% tax, 10% to the city and 10% to the state. Sounds to me like we cater to transit.
A lot of single family homeowners in Seattle may be house rich but cash poor. If the complaint is eastside workers driving to work in downtown Seattle my guess is that will diminish post pandemic: some will take East Link if like Seattle they can walk to a station or a there is park and ride capacity, but a lot more will work from home or switch to work on the eastside.
Their wealth won’t change, I highly doubt their SFH zone will change, the only change is they will no longer commute to downtown Seattle, by car or transit, so I guess that will decouple SFH, wealth, and cars.
Durkan isn’t terrible, she’s just below average. Nickels, McGinn, and Murray all had new ideas on specific transit improvements, be that Link corridors, Westlake and Eastlake and CCC streetcars, RapidRide+ lines, greater frequency, etc. They continued their predecessors’ plans and offered new ideas on top of them. Durkan continued her predecessors’ plans but has articulated no ideas beyond that. That would make her average, except compared to her three predecessors she’s below average. When she has had ideas and visions it’s been about free passes for public school students and expanding ORCA LIFT. Those are important issues but they do nothing to add or restructure transit so that you can get to more places at more times. That’s what’s missing.
Durkan isn’t terrible, she’s just below average.
Well put. For those of you think it doesn’t matter much who gets elected, and we are just splitting hairs, consider the last transit levy. The mayor (and Pedersen) wanted a lower amount. González pushed for the full amount. They compromised. As a result, a lot of service was cancelled, and a lot of buses will come less often. If you want to know why there is no bus from Lake City to Greenwood (via Northgate) it is because Durkan (and Pedersen) were elected. Transit isn’t terrible in Seattle, it is just below what it should be.
My anecdotal experience at an engineering company on the #7 route near I-90 is everyone of the 10-20% back in the office is driving (or riding their bike). Currently my 20 min drive from Bellevue would be over an hour on transit and still require driving to a P&R (unless my wife went back to “the office” and dropped me at BTC). When East Link opens that changes dramatically. I’ll be on the train. Will I be the only person on the train? I go in early. Experience counting cars on the I-90 bridge is more people are doing the “reverse” commute. Definitely in the evening traffic into Seattle is WAY heavier that the EB direction do to events in town.
The big backup (only backup) into Bellevue now is 405 north in the AM and south in the PM. I think the RR 405 investment is well spent.
The 550 has taken more hits than practically any other bus route. It lost access to the DSTT, the South Kirkland P&R, and the Rainier freeway station. Eastsiders and Eastside companies are disproportionately working at home. All Eastside routes have lost most of their riders from what I can tell. asdf2 in Kirkland says he’s often the only one on the bus now. So the 550 is a de facto coverage route now, and the 512 has surpassed it as the most-used ST Express route it looks like. But East Link will be dramatically different, because it will be faster and more reliable than the 550 ever was. The forward and reverse car commutes on I-90 and 520 were equal before covid. If reverse commutes are now the majority, that may be a distortion of covid-era travel patterns.
The 255 has come back somewhat. It’s now fairly common to see 5-10 people on the bus, although at times, it can be less than that.
Wow, only 5-10 people on the 255? I remember riding that route to Kirkland when it was standing room only at peak. Are they still running an artic when a van chassis bus would work? I drove to Zoo Tunes Sunday over 520. 4PM and the backup from Montlake was almost on to 520 and the construction related congestion is going to continue for years. What a stupid decision to force a transfer to Link at UW to get DT!
Our situation highlights that one of the things that’s going to depress transit ridership is households with two working members are likely going to be drive alone until both people are back in the office. With flex hours, our company is going to a 2/3 split, many households may never return to daily transit use.
Well, the numbers I see may be depressed by the fact that I don’t ride the 255 in the peak direction during the peak period. I work from home, and don’t commute each day into Seattle. When I do ride it, it’s usually either afternoon peak, but reverse direction, weekday evening, or weekend during the day.
Now that Link is back to normal frequency, the Link connection isn’t really all that big a deal anymore. The only annoying part is that the Montlake exit ramp is now down to one lane, which creates peak period backups. At least this is temporary. When the Montlake lid is finished and the bus taking an HOV exit ramp, and Link is running all day every 5 minutes instead of 10, that is when the 255->Link connection is really going to shine.
Ace is a lunatic and a fraud. For shame! He has 20k in back rent due to non-payment while employed. We the tax payers will be picking up that tab.
His “candidacy” is an a front to all reasonable and decent people in this city.
I’m not a fan of organizations or publications splitting their endorsements. It’s wishy washy and leads to vote dilution, which means the best candidate (in the view of the organization) may not even make it out of the primary.
Pick a candidate, put your backing behind that candidate, and hope for the best.
I can only guess that seattle subway, by proposing two candidates for various positions, is hoping that both get through to the next round. If so, then that is short sighted. There should be laser-like focus on the candidate who is best for the job, and who will win the general election. That is what I want to see from an endorsement!
My only race (king county executive) has a split endorsement…
That said, I’m not expecting that race to be seriously competitive, so I’m not going to overthink it.
5 years ago I would pay close attention to these endorsements.
These days it honestly doesn’t feel like it means as much. From what I can tell every candidate at this point understands that Seattleites think that public transit is important and vital to the city.
It also kinda feels like a lot of these urbanist/transit orgs are being co-opted to push people’s far-left ideologies that are very much outside the remit of public transit.
“It also kinda feels like a lot of these urbanist/transit orgs are being co-opted to push people’s far-left ideologies that are very much outside the remit of public transit.”
Certainly true for the Urbanist. I think, less so for STB.
One aspect that never seems to float to the top anywhere is authoritarianism. It can come from anywhere but especially from the far left or far right.
I’m troubled by one word lightning rounds and endorsements based on adherence to every ideological principle from a coalition. I would much rather see a candidate propose a better public process than the lie-about-estimates, create-mode-specific-plan, ignore-objective-analysis approach to running our City. McGinn was perhaps the most authoritarian mayor we’ve had in recent times and we have the FHSC operation to thank for that.
I don’t fault Durkan or council for bad decisions. I do fault Durkan and council for not introducing a better way for our community to make decisions. I don’t see any improvement about this from these current candidates either so I’m pessimistic about the next four years in Seattle.
I don’t fault Durkan or council for bad decisions.
I do. Durkan pushes for a smaller transit levy. She delayed or abandoned various bike improvements. She didn’t know who to put into key positions, and delayed appointments for a long time. These had nothing to do with her ability to get along with the council or the public. It had everything to do with priorities.
I do fault Durkan and council for not introducing a better way for our community to make decisions. I don’t see any improvement about this from these current candidates either so I’m pessimistic about the next four years in Seattle.
Nonsense. Durkan picked a fight with the council. She had no experience with the city, and had no idea how it was run. But because she came from a political family (and was a U. S. Attorney) she assumed she could figure it out on the fly. She is yet another unqualified candidate who thinks being mayor would be easy. Holy cow, the one area where you would think she would shine she failed miserably. If there is any outsider that should have known that the Seattle Police Department is a complete mess it is her. But instead she handed them a union contract with no accountability, and couldn’t figure out who to assign as chief. It set the tone for the department — the cops view themselves as independent, and the mayor as weak. No, she isn’t as clueless as McGinn (who seemed blindsided by the police situation “Wait, I’m supposed to make sure the cops do their job? I thought I was in charge of bike paths.”) but she still wasn’t good.
I’m enthusiastically voting for González, but Harrell would still be a big step in the right direction. Competence first.
“ She delayed or abandoned various bike improvements.”
What part of authoritarianism do you not understand? The Move Seattle problems of project selection and low-ball cost estimates are well documented. The bicycle projects were the wishes of a pushy group of bicyclists but not others — and funding choices had to be made.
Democracy means everyone participates — from avid bicyclists and transit riders to developers and yes even car drivers. Multi-modal forums for discussion and decision are needed rather these plans created by advocates just for their favorite mode.
I’m hoping for a better consensus process. You seem to want the status quo where anyone who doesn’t sign up 100 percent for your agenda is deemed a bad person.
I didn’t say she was a bad person, I only said she was bad at her job. As I wrote, not terrible, just not very good. This has nothing to do agreeing with me, or any other group 100% of the time. These are just examples of her failing. She clearly failed on her most important job (the most important job of any mayor) which is to handle the police situation.
But this is a transit blog, so let’s focus there. Here are some of her actions:
1) Fought for 130th and other infill stations (great — I sincerely applaud her efforts).
2) Allowed ST3 to include West Seattle Link (ignoring the needs of the bulk of Seattle residents to please the County Executive).
3) Didn’t push for a First Hill station with the new tunnel.
4) Pushed for moving the Ballard station from 15th to 14th. Rejected even considering moving it to 20th, even though an underground option is still on the table.
5) Worked hard to minimize funding for buses in the last levy.
That last one is the kicker. Everything else shows either ignorance or parochialism when it comes to the rail system. Fair enough. Not everyone understands it. She fought for what is in her city, while ignoring what it will actually do. Nobody is perfect.
But fighting to reduce funding for the buses? Why on earth do that? How can you call yourself a progressive, while you pursue major cutbacks in transit funding? It is quite possible that the mayor couldn’t do anything to stop the impending fiasco that was ST3. But to shortchange the buses for no good reason shows she wasn’t good on transit, just as she wasn’t good on much of anything.
From what I can tell every candidate at this point understands that Seattleites think that public transit is important and vital to the city.
Yeah, sure, but some candidates will fight harder for transit than others. Consider the last transit levy. The mayor (and Pedersen) wanted a lower amount. González pushed for the full amount. They compromised. As a result, a lot of service was cancelled, and a lot of buses will come less often. If you want to know why there is no bus from Lake City to Greenwood (via Northgate) it is because Durkan (and Pedersen) were elected. Transit isn’t terrible in Seattle, it is just below what it should be.
What is true of transit is true of bike improvements as well (https://www.seattlebikeblog.com/2021/07/15/seattles-next-mayor-will-have-an-enormous-impact-on-the-future-of-biking-and-safe-streets/). Just because someone isn’t terrible, or seems to be on your side, doesn’t mean they are the best option.
thanks for pointing out the transit levy, that’s a fair point and definitely a negative for transit on Durkan’s record.
There could still have been a frequent route between Greenwood and Lake City via Northgate. Different choices were made. Instead, hours were used on one-way peak-only routes that duplicated Link (e.g., routes 64, 302, 303, 320, and 322), new coverage on NE 75th Street, and routes too close together in Mapleaf and East Green Lake. The STBD hours will be used to improve the midday headway of new Route 20 to 15 minutes.
Next year, the STBD could ask the voters about the vehicle license fee.
“It also kinda feels like a lot of these urbanist/transit orgs are being co-opted to push people’s far-left ideologies that are very much outside the remit of public transit.”
“Certainly true for the Urbanist. I think, less so for STB.”
Agree Sparkles and asdf2. I think the volume of material the Urbanist tries to put out requires them to accept any submission no matter how unqualified the “author”. The Urbanist really isn’t about urbanism, but whatever the far-left issue du jour is. The new editor simply deletes any replies that are not an echo chamber, and so there is no “control” to point out that a lot of the articles are incredibly naïve and unrealistic, and at least to me silly. The Urbanist is filled with folks who simply do not understand money, and so never understand why certain decisions are made, or how the market is more difficult to control than maybe you thought as an undergraduate.
The quality of stuff in the Urbanist is mixed. Occasionally, they’ll have something about actual urbanism. But more and more, it’s about far-left woke stuff and advocacy for projects that are totally unrealistic, such as high speed rail between Seattle and Spokane. Their endorsements tend to be from the far-left fringes, rather than practical people who have good experience to get the job done. Even topic that should be non-controversial, such as tree planting, they try to turn into a black vs. white “woke” issue. They also have a tendency to frequently intersperse their opinions in articles that are supposed to be about facts, and sometimes don’t seem to have a good grasp of basic concepts of science or economics. For example, they once wrote that electric cars are not a solution for pollution because they produce brake dust (they don’t – they use regen breaking instead). And they utterly fail to grasp the pigeonhole principle on housing, that no matter how much you restrict or subsidize rents, a city can never house everybody who wants to live there if it doesn’t have enough supply.
The Urbanist also fails to grasp that electing candidates who are too far to left has the side effect of pushing people to the right. People like AOC are huge unwitting fundraisers for the Republican Party, and the same is true on the local level with people like Sawant.
All that said, the Urbanist still have just enough content about actual urbanism that I at least skim their posts. Anything that advocates allocating more street spaces to people and bikes over cars and parking, I’m probably going to agree with. Same with articles that advocate preserving forest in its natural state, rather than turning it over to sprawl. And funding basic transit service so that a private car is not a necessity to get around the city.
All things considered, I would not use the Urbanist for endorsements, but I would at least consider endorsements from an organization like STB. We definitely need people who will fight hard for transit, but also people who will get things done, rather than simply pontificate.
The thing about the Urbanist’s unabashed leftism is that urbanism and transit advocacy are by and large left issues. Conservatives are for the most part never going to get on board – just look at this blog’s resident suburban crank. Sure, there are libertarian and property-rights justifications for liberalizing zoning and such, but those kinds of appeals don’t have much purchase in this city. So I get why they’re they way they are.
And I don’t get the criticism regarding housing supply – they are unambiguously supply maximalists.
EVs may produce less brake dust than a pure ICE (they’re going to be similar to a hybrid), but if you hard brake, you’re definitely not getting pure regen. Plus tire dust, etc. They’re better than ICE cars for sure, but still worse than other transportation solutions.
So buses don’t produce brake dust or tire compound degradation?
This issue was debunked on The Urbanist (by the comments). In fact, the tire issue has nothing to do with carbon emissions, but unproven claims compounds in tire wear can enter the water system and harm salmon.
In reality it is the $3.5 billion unfunded court ordered repair of the culverts the legislature keeps punting on because it would come out of the transportation fund that is a proven harm to salmon.
Brake dust and tire compounds are simply a way for those opposed to cars (urbanists) to deal with EV’s that negate the global warming issue, although it is leading metro to accelerate electrification of the bus fleet that could cause a significant reduction of coverage and frequency.
Brake dust and tire compounds in EV’s (but not buses) is one of those moments when urbanists jump the shark.
“and transit advocacy are by and large left issues”
The thing is, I really don’t want transit to become just a Left issue because, that’s a recipe for terrible transit. Fact is, government services that middle class people use and value get funded much better than services oriented exclusively at the poor. Look at parks, roads, airports, schools, the electric grid. All of this stuff is relied upon by the middle class, and it’s all funded at least decently. Compare with poverty-oriented services such as homeless shelters, food stamps, medicaid, etc. Now, it’s all about providing the minimum service to the needy that you can get away with in order to keep the tax burden down for everyone else.
Where transit falls in the mix varies greatly depending on the city. In London and Tokyo, it’s a core service used and valued by everybody. In Oklahoma City, it’s a service for just the poor to be kept as cheap as possible. In Seattle, it’s somewhere in between these two extremes, but I fear it’s moving in the direction of the latter.
In the short term, you may be able to keep transit running by guilting progressives into funding it as a service for the less fortunate/BIPOC/etc. In the long run, it’s not going to work. Over time, political winds inevitably blow both ways, and once they start blowing rightward, if middle class people aren’t riding it, bus service is going to get axed.
I don’t really see the divide between progressive/liberal vs. conservative in this region on many of the issues on these progressive blogs. For example, Mercer Island citizens donated almost 10 to 1 in favor of Biden over Trump, and our 41st legislators are some of the most progressive in the state. The eastside voted in favor of ST 2 and 3, although there were a lot of dishonesties in ST 3.
I see the divide as urban/suburban, which is heavily influenced by whether you have children and are married, although Seattle is very faux urban, especially with the exodus of urbanists from the downtown core to residential neighborhoods.
East King Co. has always been heavily influenced by its size (the same as Rhode Island) and steep topography. Its lack of density in the past and today makes transit a poor choice and expensive to do well, and has created a car culture that is unlikely to change. East Link is just a byproduct of subarea equity and uniform tax rates.
Next the suburbs are defined by what created them in the early 1970’s:
1. Public safety (especially among women and for children).
2. Local control of public schools.
3. Owner occupied single family neighborhoods with large lots and lots of trees and a rural feeling.
I see very little desire even among the most “liberal” eastsiders to change those four pillars of the eastside, and Bellevue is much less white than Seattle is today.
It was only very recently that any kind of true density existed on the eastside, in downtown Bellevue, and even then that density came with the promise it would be tightly circumscribed, and the SFH zones would remain, even if right next to the zoning line. The favored town center/zoning model is still Issaquah, and I find Issaquah a hell of a lot better retail experience than anywhere in Seattle.
If you read eastside blogs — mainly Facebook and Nextdoor — the overwhelming view is Seattle has become a shithole and no one wants to go there ever again. Maybe that is alarmist, and they are talking about downtown Seattle that many Seattleites have abandoned, but they just want separation from Seattle and its policies from their communities, which is why I think it is time to split King Co. between east and west, because the fact is King Co.’s current leadership is very heavily oriented towards Seattle’s (even West Seattle’s) policies and issues, but a huge amount of the county’s revenue comes from the eastside. This divide is really apparent in the different approaches to homelessness.
The issue for Seattle is in the past a lot of eastside money flowed into Seattle, both work commuters and dining/retail. The eastside was for living and schools, and Seattle was for work and entertainment, which is why so many commuted. The dining/retail began to stay on the eastside a while ago, and now it looks like the commuter will no longer make the long commute to downtown Seattle which is why businesses are relocating to the eastside, and Seattle needs that eastside money.
If one good thing came out of the pandemic it is before employees chased businesses wherever they were, and now businesses have to chase employees wherever they live. I hope the misery of the work commute — on transit or in a car — is over.
People have different visions. Just don’t try to force your view on others, or claim your vision is more moral, because on the eastside very little in Seattle today appears moral. Seattle has some issues. For example, 22% of parents send their K-12 students to private school, which would be much higher if more parents could afford private schools. Over 50% rent, and currently 25% of SFH purchases in Seattle are all cash.
What this tells me is Seattle’s zoning is creating an absentee investor class and a permanent renter class, because just about no affordable housing is being created, and I find it amazing some actually believe replacing a SFH that houses a family with 4-6 1-2 person multi-family units with no vegetation on the lot and all new construction will create affordable housing. Like I say, let me know when the affordable housing (80%, 50%, or 30%) is created from upzoning without public subsidies..
Other interesting facts are last year SFH prices on the eastside increased 39% — yes 39% — to nearly $1.4 million, almost $500,000 more than the average price in Seattle, which I should find surprising having lived in this region for 62 years, but don’t.
Then an article on today’s front page of the Times notes the eastside is growing quite a bit faster than Seattle, and the urban growth of the 2010’s maybe coming to an end. Car demand is through the roof because people don’t want to return to transit, or even carpools. It is just a post-pandemic world, and urban centers are going to see a loss of general fund revenue they have come to rely upon.
Do whatever you want in Seattle, but don’t bring it to the eastside is the view of most eastsiders, because what is happening in Seattle right now is about the polar opposite of the vision for most eastsiders. My advice to eastsider or westsider is don’t complain, move.
I’m not sure if you’re replying to me or not, Daniel Thompson, but I think you missed my point if so.
Yes, buses still produce brake/tire wear pollution. Less than EVs, which is less than ICEs. Not all pollution is a cause of climate change. And the harms of brakes/tires hasn’t been debunked, because while it is understudied, it appears to be a very real pollutant that we should seek to minimize where possible.
My real objection to EVs as an urbanist, and as an urbanist who is likely about to buy an EV, FWIW, is not around the brake/tire pollution, but rather that they don’t actually solve the core problem of car-centric life: you can’t have a pleasant, walkable neighborhood with many places to go *and* have everyone using cars all the time to get around. You must have density to create that walkability, and then you must have transit to make that density manageable. EVs do nothing to address that. They just make a better experience for everyone when you do have to drive.
“unproven claims compounds in tire wear can enter the water system and harm salmon.”
It seems pretty well proven to me:
Steve, Washington passed The Better Brakes Law in 2010:
“The Better Brakes Law”
“In 2010, the Legislature passed a law to reduce the use of toxic material in vehicle brake pads and shoes (Chapter 70.285 RCW). This law restricts the use of several heavy metals and asbestos, beginning in 2015, and provides a schedule to phase out copper. Vehicle brake pads manufactured after 2021 must contain less than 5 percent copper by weight. By 2025, brake pads must contain less than 0.5 percent copper.”
It is also true some studies have identified “2-anilino-5-([4-methylpentan-2-yl]amino)cyclohexa-2,5-diene-1,4-dione, or 6PPD-quinone” for short as toxic to Coho Salmon, although more studies are being done. CA has already begun to study regulating the compound, used to preserve tires against ozone wear. At the same time it hardly makes sense to point to 6PPD-quinone if the state refuses to correct the fish culverts the fish must travel in to spawn or even be exposed to 6PPD, except that court ordered $3.5 billion project would significantly deplete the state’s transportation fund, including for transit.
As CA shows, the solution to 6PPD is to remove the chemical from tires, not ban cars, or buses.
If your point is fewer cars create a better urban experience I think that is a legitimate opinion. That can be done through banning cars, taxing them prohibitively, making parking too expensive or eliminating parking, eliminating car capacity on bridges, creating car free zones, or Uber/Lyft, because urbanists believe banning cars creates a better urban experience.
But just say that, and sell the owners of 460,000 cars in Seattle on that plan. It is the majority of voters that determine these kinds of policies, including retailers. There is no need to use global warming when global warming is no longer an issue with EV’s, and now requires electrification of Metro which is a huge cost, if you simply want cars off the streets for aesthetic reasons.
So far even Seattleites don’t seem keen on getting rid of their cars, and every nook and cranny of city streets has cars parked there because urbanists thought removing onsite parking requirements would force citizens to get rid of their cars. When the W. Seattle Bridge was being discussed the first demand by WS residents was no loss of car capacity.
To get rid of cars you will need to pass laws that ban cars, in parts of Seattle or all of Seattle, and get a majority of voters to approve that. I would humbly suggest safer streets and better transit, along with some retail density in Seattle so it is walkable (so make sure retailers and restaurants are keen with your car ban because I doubt Nordstrom is), are good places to start if you want to convince Seattleites to walk, bike or take transit rather than drive.
I just don’t think there is any chance Seattleites will vote to ban their cars, certainly after Covid-19 and the cuts to ST 3 in Seattle. So Urbanists come up with other reasons cars must be banned.
Of course the pandemic has probably set back a no car society by about 20 years based on current demands to buy used and new cars. It is amazing how a pandemic can change everything. I certainly wouldn’t try legislation today to ban cars.
Daniel, you really like to type a lot, but gosh, a lot of that is off-point. I own a car. I am probably going to buy another car soon, as well (as a replacement, not an addition.) I don’t want to ban cars. I want to create a city where I need to use my car less and less, and maybe someday don’t need one at all. I think most urbanists agree with that, and not with your odd “ban cars” strawman. (I’d also like to minimize pollution from those cars in the meantime, both through eliminating combustion, as well as reformulating tires/brakes, etc, both for fish, as well as for my own lungs and those of my neighbors. But like I said, that’s secondary to creating a better urban environment.)
Furthermore, the removal of parking minima was primarily motivated by a) it isn’t necessary – the market is more than capable of creating parking if that’s what buyers/renters want and b) the parking minima increase costs (unnecessarily.) Creating a disincentive to car ownership is a distant third to the degree it’s a motivating factor at all, which to many, it isn’t/wasn’t.
“I really don’t want transit to become just a Left issue”
It is and has been for decades; pretending otherwise is frankly foolish and nonproductive.
Most people also don’t write novel-length posts on an obscure internet forum about transit in a place they have a disdain for.
I don’t “disdain” transit. At the same time, I don’t put on my Che Guevara hat and pull out the Seattle Subway map for some late night transit erotica.
I live in a subarea that is almost totally disinterested in transit. The majority of eastsiders have lives that don’t allow the use of transit, unless certain peak commutes they are forced onto.
This blog has around 2000 readers. Just the Mercer Island Nextdoor has 11,000 readers. Between my Facebook pages and eastside Nextdoors I probably reach over 100,000 eastside residents every day. I can’t remember the last time I saw a single post about transit, good or bad. For them, transit just does not exist.
Maybe because I am a lawyer I am a realist. Here are my views on transit:
1. Transit is a transportation tool, mostly funded by those who don’t use it. Transit will not change the wealth inequities in this world, or create affordable housing, or solve any of the non-transportation problems in your life.
2. Like every business, transit depends on the money. And like every other business, choices need to be made based on ridership per mile per dollar. If you want to try induced demand for a short period to see if it really exists fine, but the money isn’t there to wait for development to catch up to validate dishonest ridership estimates to begin with, especially awful developments next to I-5 because no one else wants to live next to I-5. Don’t blame me if DSTT2 was knowingly underestimated in 2016 (and apparently Lynnwood Link and Federal Way Link).
3. The competition is the car, and the car has no first/last mile access issues, is safe and convenient, you can carry stuff in a car like kids and pets, women love cars, and yes cars and parking are heavily subsidized too. So transit has to compete where cars are possibly weak: cost (including parking taxes) and congestion. The region built Link for commuters.
4. 8% of trips in this region — which leads the nation — are by transit according to the last study I saw. That means disdain is not the biggest threat to transit, disinterest is, because the fundamental point of transit is it is mostly subsidized by folks who don’t use it, from levies to general fund revenues, whereas cars and roads are subsidized by those who use them, and subsidize transit. Yes, this is an obscure blog, but that is the whole point.
5. Peak commuters pay the transit bills but hate being on transit commuting to work five days/week. They want out of commuting, and the pandemic gave them an out, so better plan for less farebox revenue, and a shift in transit general fund subsidies among cities and subareas like sales tax (ironically to subareas that are disinterested in transit).
6. Transit does not create retail dense, attractive urbanism, it depends on safe streets that create retail dense, attractive urbanism people want to take transit to, because transit requires a rider to wait on the street day or night, and to walk day or night. No one will take transit if it is not safe, or perceived as 100% safe. What is the point of taking transit to downtown Seattle if nothing is there?
7. You need the car customer to create the retail dense attractive urbanism. Transit riders and their purchasing power won’t support Nordstrom downtown, or any retail. Get rid of the car in Seattle and it will drive to Bellevue or Issaquah, which more and more it already does. The people retail needs don’t need transit, a harsh reality.
“You need the car customer to create the retail dense attractive urbanism.”
Why does it work in other countries then? And in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, and some neighborhoods in other cities I don’t remember. Places where retailers don’t feel the need to have on-site or street parking because they do robust business without it, and they have delivery services for large heavy things. Places that removed street parking and business went up, not down, because neighborhood and transit walk-ins more than made up for the loss of drivers.
“Why does it [transit dependent retail] work in other countries then? And in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago, and some neighborhoods in other cities I don’t remember.”
I am not sure it does. San Francisco, Chicago and NY have much greater housing density in their downtown cores, so many more customers who can walk to retail. Those cities saw some steep declines in retail activity during the pandemic because many residents moved out. Seattle on the other hand has taken the opposite zoning approach, and moved housing density out of the downtown core to the residential neighborhoods.
Plus Chicago, NY and San Francisco have massive car traffic, and parking garages. You need both car and transit access to have a really vibrant retail downtown, and right now San Francisco is hurting because of its street scene.
A rich and dense retail area requires many factors, but more than anything else number of shoppers. Access is just one factor, and a small one. The catch-22 is without the rich and dense retail no one wants to go there anyway. You can have difficult access (car or transit) and people will still find a way if the retail and restaurant scene is great (think Uber/Lyft) to get there, but if you don’t have the rich, dense retail scene no one wants to go there anyway, so who cares how you access it.
What has really exploded when access to retail is difficult (car or transit) or the brick and mortar retail scene sucks (or during a pandemic is unsafe) is online retail. Today brick and mortar retail has to provide an experience different than just buying something, just like a restaurant has to provide an experience different than dining at home. That something is society.
Nothing is worse than an empty restaurant.
Seattle’s current retail and restaurant scene has little to do with access. There are underground parking garages, street parking, nearly all transit runs through Seattle, traffic is light, Uber/Lyft, you name it. What is missing is population density (including hotels and tourism), and safe and attractive streets to walk between businesses to attract those who don’t live downtown, because Seattle’s retail is not a mall but street based. Without the shoppers the retail dies, and it becomes self-perpetuating.
Recreate the retail and restaurant vibrancy and folks will find a way to get there, one way or the other. That begins with safe and attractive streets, and I think the recent poll I posted shows this resonates among Seattleites. It is foolish to cut off any form of access if rich and vibrant retail is the goal, but pointless to debate access if the retail scene is not attractive compared to other retail areas, which probably have better car access and parking.
I really don’t think car oriented retail works that well anymore. Places like the U District or Fremont are pretty low on their parking ratio, and work fine. Many shopping malls with vast parking areas are in decline or even closed. To work in a post-Amazon world, there needs to be a good base of customers within walking distance. You don’t get that with huge parking lots separating everything.
“You need the car customer to create the retail dense attractive urbanism.”
Right, because Pike Place Market, the quintessential retail attraction in the state, just wouldn’t survive without all of those car customers. What a ridiculous argument.
That reminds me, Pine Street shoppers are back in force. The sidewalk around 5th & Pine has gotten thick with middle-class pedestrians again. And Pike Place Market is busy; you’ll have to walk around the crowds in the main hallway and on the east side of Pike Place. A lot are tourists.
“You need the car customer to create the retail dense attractive urbanism.”
“Right, because Pike Place Market, the quintessential retail attraction in the state, just wouldn’t survive without all of those car customers. What a ridiculous argument.”
Ross, how do you think the majority of the shoppers at the Pike Place Market got there? Especially during a pandemic? They drove. My guess is the vast majority of shoppers today at the Market drove, because the vast majority of all trips today are by car due to Covid-19.
When I visit the Market’s website they have a dedicated section for parking. http://www.pikeplacemarket.org/ (website) http://pikeplacemarket.org/directions-parking (dedicated section on parking).
When I Google where to park at the Pike Place Market there are several garages nearby. http://www.parkme.com/map?lat=47.6083&lon=-122.3408 Plus there is street parking on Western, first, second and third.
I am sure shoppers also take transit to the Market, although ridership is down due to Covid-19, and both buses and Link stop at 3rd and Pike, probably the worst part of the city, along with the stretch from 3rd and Pike to 1st and Pike.
If tourists begin to return there may be more who walk — last I saw hotel occupancy rates in Seattle were up to 46%, but that is around 1/2 of pre-pandemic levels for this time of year. However even before the pandemic hotels were suggesting tourists take Uber to the Market due to the surrounding area, especially at night.
Retail in Seattle needs both transit and car shoppers to thrive (my guess is downtown Bellevue, although quite vibrant today, has less than 5% of its shoppers and patrons arriving by transit). Retail needs as many shoppers as possible, and Seattle is already disadvantaged because so many other areas have free parking.
I wonder how many on this blog opining on retail and cars have ever operated a retail store in Seattle. Before the pandemic and homelessness issue, the biggest complaint among Pioneer Square retail merchants was the lack of parking. Why do you think SDOT lowered street parking rates? To encourage more car shoppers to shop in Seattle.
After all, how is someone on the eastside — or north or south Seattle — suppose to get to the Market (which honestly is not the best place to buy food in the area, especially seafood, and is mostly a tourist novelty; a single Costco dwarfs the gross revenue the Market generates), or carry home their vegetables, salmon or bag of mussels? On a bus?
So no, I don’t think encouraging car and transit shoppers to shop in Seattle is ridiculous, because all those car shoppers are going to shop somewhere, and the reality is they are the higher profit customer.
Look, if Seattle retailers, including the Market and especially businesses in the downtown core request street and parking in general be restricted then have SDOT do that, rather than lower parking rates because that is what the retail businesses requested, and why the Market has a dedicated page on its website for parking. Don’t kill Seattle retail to try and make a point about transit vs. cars because transit never wins that fight because there are so many other, better places to shop.
STB explicitly supports mass transit. medium-to-high density, mixed use, and ped/bike infrastructure, so that puts it at a certain ideological position. In a US context that can be considered liberal, while in a European/Canadian/Asian/Oceanian context it’s centrist and common sense. Some STB regulars go further and want a social democratic system. In most other industrialized countries, again, at least parts of that are considered centrist and common sense (e.g., universal health care). It’s US politics that’s distorted. Other far left positions like identity politics, you won’t find much in STB.
It has been said that STB is the voice of middle-class choice transit riders, because that’s what most of the staff and commentators are. In contrast, the Transit Riders Union has a more working-class and transit-dependent base, so it focuses more on things like low-income fares.
The Urbanist I don’t read regularly except when there’s a link to an article from here, so I don’t know what all it’s saying. But the articles I’ve read focus mostly on urbanist issues like the title implies. If the editor is really approving unqualified authors to keep the volume of articles up, then maybe they should slow down and focus on quality not quantity.
What other far left ideological issues in the transit-fan blogosphere are you concerned about?
Here is the home page for Transit Riders Union. I don’t see anything on this page about transit. Here is a list of the first dozen or so titles:
We did it!!! King County Council passes renter protections
Stay Housed Stay Healthy: Renters Making Progress!
TRU’s 2021 Primary Endorsements
Why we’re challenging “Compassion Seattle”
Stay Housed, Stay Healthy Campaign Launch: March 29
Extend the Eviction Moratoriums!
Taking on Big Tech: Amazon, Monopoly Power, Antitrust & Organizing for a People-Centered Economy
Do you know your Black transit history?
Rising to the COVID-19 challenge
#SeattleNeeds Relief: Taxing Big Business
BlackLivesMatter: Police & Public Transit don’t mix
Organizing for a Solidarity Budget
Encampment Outreach & Solidarity Fundraising
Solidarity Budget: What we won and what’s next
Sweet Victory: at long last, Seattle taxes big business!
TRU statement on Seattle economic relief & big business tax proposals
TRU statement on uprising, police escalation and misuse of our public transit
#BusLineHeroes: Support Transit Workers in Lebanon on International Workers Day!
Does TRU ever write about transit? Maybe they are not riding transit during Covid-19, even after vaccinations, and so don’t have any transit issues to write about at this time.
Yup transit riders union talks about alot of the same issues as Sawant and not much about transit
I didn’t know the TRU had a website and I’ve only been to one meeting. It has focused on transit issues and supported in-person transit activism with STB. I don’t know if it has changed since then. It may have become like Los Angeles’ Bus Riders Union, where “bus riders” means who they are rather than what they advocate. I’d like to think some of TRU’s transit focus is still there somewhere, even if it’s not represented in those articles.
It used to be that transit was neither a left or right issue. Hell, Free Congress Foundation used to be a big supporter of improved transit, and they were the ones that chartered the Republican course to rule by minority, and were heavily involved with the rightward swing of several countries in Eastern Europe.
I don’t think transit is a left or right issue, more rural vs. urban/suburban. Like I noted before, the eastside voted against I-976 and for ST 2 and 3. (Of course the eastside is overall pretty progressive in reality, just not when it comes to public safety, land use or schools). Nationally of course there is a scrum over transit pork, and if you have roads you want roads and bridges funding, and if you have transit you want transit funding.
But if you live in rural America how does transit serve you? It would be like asking how hunting serves Seattleites.
Also, some communities in this region are not as wealthy as others, and transit costs are a huge burden. Asking S. King Co. to pony up $275 million for DSTT2 (when it apparently needs $194 million from the feds to complete Federal Way Link) is a big ask. Same with Pierce Co. Tisgwm just posted ST will spend well over $100 billion through 2041. Does anyone really understanding how huge that figure is, and what other worthy funding needs it rules out?
Is transit really the most important thing in life? Are there really folks who vote for mayor based solely on transit?
“But if you live in rural America how does transit serve you?”
In other countries it does.
The only county in Washington that doesn’t have some sort of transit service is San Juan (they’re private tour companies). Other than that, even the most rural counties have transit service.
As San Juan county grapples with a lack of workers due to the high cost of living, they may eventually get something out there too.
Orcas Island has a transit shuttle in the summer season. It’s mainly to discourage the crowds of tourists from driving between towns but some locals may use it too.
This election I will be voting close to a straight anti-crime / pro-clean-the-city-up ticket. It’s crystal clear that the sum total of political will in the city is bougie progressive homeowners, largely irrespective of anyone in office. So that limits the electoral choices in practice to what they can affect.
What I consider key issues are:
– heavy focus on property crime
– accountable cops (no more “cop riots”)
I don’t see density as being generally feasible politically. Transit in Seattle is _tolerable_ but is being dominated by financial concerns right now, and neighborhood associations and activism in general. Outside of Seattle, the inner ring suburb votes drive the system.
Longer term transit plans really are going to be driven by the 2024 Federal elections, since we rely so heavily on federal funding for our broader system. So I don’t think that a heavily pro transit candidate will be given a free hand by the voters or the Feds. An *anti* transit candidate also will be cut off by the voters as well.
I’ve had more crime I’ve *personally* experienced in the past two years than I have in the 5-6 prior. I want that dealt with aggressively; that is something the elections can help with.
The reality is Republicans took 30 state legislatures in 2020, a census year, something that got lost in the election hype. Those 30 R states are naturally doing what the D controlled Congress tried to do: gerrymander the election process and districts.
Nearly every president loses seats in the mid-term elections. Obama (whom I voted for twice) got wiped out in 2010 and never regained the Congress. The Senate is split, and D’s have a 4 vote majority in the House. D’s will certainly lose one, and maybe both.
When you see the main issue in many local elections and all the election heat for school boards and critical race theory (which is a legal theory based on “anti-racist” remedies, which is just affirmative action that no one seems to understand) then you can guess D’s will not do well in 2022. Even CA is seeking to impeach Newsom, and a former police capt. is the D’s nominee for mayor of NYC, because like P N everyone votes law and order if law and order is an issue, especially white people.
So forget about 2024 if transit is your goal, and R’s already have their favored candidate DeSantis (which is why CNN and MSNBC try to savage DeSantis). I mean look, a crazy nut like Trump almost won in 2020, so what is a more polished version Harvard educated lawyer from the south like DeSantis going to do in 2024 when D’s won’t be nearly as worked up (and the election system favors them?)
D’s have until the end of 2021 to get whatever done they want to get done, and with Manchin and Sinema that isn’t much, because their reelection trumps everything for them. WV and AZ are not exactly liberal. You know R’s are feeling the wind at their back if they are opposing the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, which is truly an infrastructure bill, until the particulars are set out. R’s will eventually agree to the infrastructure bill because there are so many goodies in it (less the green new deal and a lot of transit), but their goal is to make sure that is the last major bill that passes. Time (and the Supreme Court) are on their side.
On the good news side, in this region Northgate Link will open in Oct. 2021, East Link in 2023, and Federal Way Link in 2024 I think. Not bad if transit is your # 1 issue, although I doubt it is for most.
In the past, I’ve generally voted for the best candidates on transit for local races (e.g. mayor, city council, King County council, etc.), but ignored transit and focused on national issues for state and federal races (e.g. House, Senate, President, governor, etc.).
The simple reason is that when you ride transit, who wins the local races has a direct impact on your mobility. But, at the federal level, matter much, since nearly all King County Transit comes from local funds. And, when federal money does come in, it’s often for dubious projects like the CCC that provide essentially zero mobility benefit. This is very different from small-town/rural transit agencies for which local tax revenue is minimal and state/federal grants are everything.
For the most part, that’s generally translated into more moderate candidates at the federal level and more progressive candidates at the local level. Which left me in the somewhat unusual position of rooting for Shaun Scott over Alex Pederson (I just had moved out of the district, so couldn’t vote in that race), while still voting for Joe Biden over Bernie Sanders in the presidential primary shortly thereafter.
This was, of course, before the Amazon Tax, CHOP, Defund the Police, and other stuff has made me more aware of all of other policies you are voting for in the package of a progressive candidate, which have nothing to do with transit. I still want and value good transit and good bike lanes. But, in the future, I intend to look more at the local candidates’ whole package and be less of a single-issue voter than I have been.
There is an article by the editor on The Urbanist today https://www.theurbanist.org/ with a link to a recent poll https://www.dropbox.com/s/pvy5wwbipq2ln4t/Seattle_Primary_Mood_Q1-9.pdf?dl=0
84% of those polled believe Seattle is on the wrong path (makes Trump’s numbers look great). When it comes down to blame those polled stated:
1. 8% Durkan (The Urbanist accidently lists 9% in its article)
2. 29% council
3. 34% far left activists
4. 3% corporations
5. 26% other
3% of those polled gave the council the highest five stars. 69% want a change in their politicians. 74% think incumbents should be voted out.
According to the article in The Urbanist, but not a question in the poll, 64% of Seattleites polled list homelessness as their number one issue.
I am not sure I agree with the Urbanist’s take on the poll results and the solutions the citizens have in mind or should have in mind (and The Urbanist does not address the fact 34% of those polled blame far left activists for the city’s wrong path) but according to the Urbanist the race for mayor right now is Harrell, Gonzales, and then Echohawk.
Just a heads up that:
a) Seattle Subway’s endorsements were a farce. Their process was all about who has the biggest bank account, not the most qualifications, the greatest grasp of public transport, urban planning, etc.
b) Though I brought all of this to their attention, and they held deliberations (!!!) over this, they still decided to shut me out of their predictably lame farce of a forum. Of course, many who watched said the entire charade was a bunch of folks who want to get elected just yessing Seattle Subway all evening.
If you (or Seattle Subway) want a bold voice for massive public transport upgrades and adaptations for the necessary global warming pushback that must lie ahead, don’t elect the same people and types who have been and will be ignoramuses on the issues you care most about.
And Nathan, with respect, you can shake your head at my insistence on ‘subways’ but that is EXACTLY what needs to be built and, frankly, a good portion of what has been and is being built by Sound Transit in Seattle proper. As we go further into more lines, toward a complete system, more and more of it will have to be built underground for many reasons. And, do you laugh off “Seattle Subway”. Do you mock NYC’s “subways” a lot of which put in lots of above ground track miles. Trust me, like you, I know a lot about this stuff and there’s a marketing/perception component. ST is often clueless on that front. Just ponder the system name: “Link”. It’s a fairly terrible name. And, our light rail isn’t exactly light rail.
Anyway, much more important, we must build out a complete system ASAP and we must quadruple down on more and better bike/scoot/skate/ped amenities. We can get far with public-private partnerships, a comprehensive plan for what we actually need, a new city-based transport authority and the urgency that should accompany the climate catastrophe we have just entered into.
I’ve worked on rail and transport advocacy and policy in NY and Portland since the 1990s. It’s been a priority for me because it is a priority in all good urban planning and a fundamental need. It is so critical to establishing equity and inclusivity. Communities that drive great transport systems as a top priority get much of what they want. See Montréal.
So, damn these absurd joke endorsements of the favored candidates and those with the biggest campaign accounts. Vote for the change you wish to see. I assure you, more than any candidate running, I am that change, especially when it comes to issues around sane public transport planning. Or, continue to support the same old and suspend yourself in wonder why you’re disappointed when it takes decades here to do what gets done in less than one in other places. Sit in disappointment when bike lanes shift and alter in illogical and dangerous ways and pull your hair out when important rights of way on squandered in ignorance instead of being seized, protected and built on, with the aid of our wealthy corporate partners (indeed, Amazon just threw down and made it clear that clean, green transport is a priority for them, the the astonishing collective yawn of Seattle’s ‘political class’. I took note and I see promise and opportunity toward a better, cleaner, totally connected future.
Please, don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Vote for the logical candidate. Even if I don’t win, you’ll send a loud message. Indeed, I ran to raise, especially 4 or 5 key issues, with plans and funding mechanisms in tow, public transport being one of them.
I hope to earn your support via your vote, and that you’ll give Seattle Subways the feedback they deserve: Stop undermining what should be a democratic endorsement process. Cheers and thanks.
I don’t live in Seattle so cannot vote for the mayoral race. Although I appreciated the work and passion you put into your post, at the same time as someone who lives on the eastside your post makes me very thankful for subarea equity.
Thanks Daniel. and, fair enough. I have no problem with the city crafting its own public transport agenda and being responsible for lining up its funding. Just, know that the most selfish aspects of subarea equity can boomerang. I have every intention of exploring automobile commuter taxation and implementing tolls on many of Seattle’s most traversed streets. Stuff has to be paid for and everyone who uses that stuff or the stuff that such infrastructure supports needs to do their fair share. Provincialism is no answer. And, there is little risk to building out a proper ‘green’ public transport system in a city and region where the population’s been exploding for a long time and where widespread auto use clearly isn’t the answer. If Seattle needs to show the doubters the way, so be it. It’d hardly be the first time :-).
I’m not sure you’ve got it any better there.
The elected representatives on the east side asked for light rail from Issaquah to Kenmore. They could have had any number of better citizen led proposals. Witness BRISK by Dan Ryan:
I appreciate your passion Xtian Gunther, but don’t know where the money will come from. This is a common question I ask on this blog, that irritates some.
Your plan would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, while your subarea cannot afford to complete WSBLE or DSTT2 with current revenue streams. Seattle also has $3.5 billion in unfunded bridge repairs, and every time a bridge needs replacing the very first demand from the community is no loss of car capacity. You need bridges if transit does not fly, unless you plan on tunneling under the water, which would make DSTT2 look like chump change.
When you talk about boomerangs leading to congestion pricing on Seattle’s streets, and “commuter” taxation, be careful what you wish for. The biggest threat to transit in the N. King Co. subarea is declining peak commuter transit ridership due to working from home, which eliminates farebox recovery and reallocates a lot of general fund taxes like sales taxes from Seattle to eastside cities.
Seattle is based on commuter income, including transit. If eastside folks are not working in Seattle they probably are not going to Seattle at all. I don’t think I would want to accelerate the desire of eastsiders to not go into Seattle, on the basis eastsiders will switch to transit to get to Seattle, and fund miles and miles of subways in Seattle. If you are married, and live on the eastside, one thing you learn is women love cars.
Seattle’s population from April 2020 to April 2021 grew by 8400 citizens, a much lower rate than the eastside. Last time I calculated what it would take for Seattle to reach 10 million citizens — which your transit vision is basically predicated on — it would take 900 years at 8400 new residents each year. I am not sure what transit will look like in the year 3000.
Let’s see how the spine turns out. The $252 million from the feds will hopefully allow Lynnwood and Federal Way Link to be completed. Northgate Link opens in October, East Link in 2023, and Federal Way I think in 2024. By 2024 any permanent ridership losses on transit due to WFH or businesses relocating out of Seattle should be better known. My guess is that is for light rail in N. King Co. because the money will have run out.
If you still favor very expensive transit projects (albeit above ground) that will have very questionable ridership there is the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line that is scheduled to open in 2041. Ironically it looks like the eastside subarea is leading the way on transit fantasies, in the subarea least interested in transit. Have you thought about moving to Issaquah and running for mayor there?
You miss the point Glenn: the eastside can afford the Issaquah to S. Kirkland line. East King Co. just makes almost no sense for light rail, but if subarea equity and uniform tax rates mean you have to spend the money, and no one really plans to use it, it becomes a political statement or sales gimmick for ST 3.
Actually two of three of Dan Ryan’s “Brisk” proposals are part of ST 3: extending East Link to downtown Redmond, and BRT on I-405. After that there just weren’t any other good places to spend the transit money, and Issaquah is a powerful eastside city, so what the hell. My guess is the most effective use of ST revenue will be to continue express buses from Issaquah to Seattle after East Link opens, if there are any commuters left.
Now if you want to talk about expanding 405 you will get a lot of interest on the eastside. I-90 is still a pretty good access road. 520 not so much, because it ends.
Will it get built? I hope not, except where else to spend the money, and it looks like eastside revenues from ST 2 and 3 will be much greater than estimated, more than ST 3 will cost. Kirkland does not want it in their town center, and neither will Issaquah, so there you have the two bookends of crazy ST 3: WSBLE that kind of makes sense but is not affordable, and Issaquah to S. Kirkland that makes no sense at all and is affordable (and is above ground).
Although I haven’t voted in city of Seattle elections since moving to Snohomish County, I do still follow the city’s political scene for a variety of reasons. This primary season is interesting to me mostly because of the mayor’s race and the decision of the incumbent not to seek a second term. IMO, Durkan’s tenure has been pretty disappointing to me on several fronts so I’m glad to see her moving on. This brings me to the actual point of my comment here: I was wondering if there are any STB readers who ultimately voted for Durkan who would be willing to share their assessments of the job she’s done as mayor and how that sort of reflection may influence their votes in the upcoming primary.
My two cents. Given the host of challenges facing Seattle at present, the next mayor really needs to hit the ground running. IMO, the city needs an executive branch leader with prior municipal/local governance experience to achieve that. If I still voted in Seattle, I would most likely vote for González (and will strongly make that case to my mother-in-law when she fills out her ballot).
In the meantime, I’ll be casting my votes for the two races that do appear on MY ballot, my local hospital district commissioner position as well as my local water district commissioner position. I can hardly contain my excitement. Lol.
Passing the popcorn…..
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